I am a makeup enthusiast. There is nothing that gets me going like beating my face down and taking some cute SnapChat selfies. It hasn’t always been this way. I was a lipgloss girl for pretty much my entire teenage era. And unlike what naysayers of the beauty industry would say, makeup didn’t give me confidence. In fact, it wasn’t until I gained some self-confidence and self-esteem that I felt comfortable enough to wear makeup. The high school me wouldn’t be caught dead with gold eyes and red lips but that’s almost the default setting for 23-year-old me. I love everything about makeup, I love watching YouTube tutorials, Ulta and Sephora trips make my heart smile, and it’s a form of self-expression much like playing with your hair or fashion.
However, as a dark skin Black woman, I don’t feel that the love has been reciprocated. Time and time again many of the brands that dominate every beauty section from Walgreens to Macy’s show little love to black women as a whole and especially the dark skin black woman. Most recently high-end brand Laura Mercier came under fire after they posted an ad on their Instagram account for a new foundation that read “Foundation for every skin tone”. Such a bold claim for a foundation that came with 2 shades for brown or dark skin black women. Of course, it took no time for Instagram users to call the brand out and they ended up deleting the ad. I don’t think Laura Mercier’s intention was to be malicious but the post was definitely infuriating. It highlighted how many of these brands either completely disregard women of color or lump us into a very small space of light, medium or dark with very little account for the in between. The problem is they don’t give white women the same treatment. In that same Laura Mercier post, there were 8 shades of foundations for white skin tones and 2 olive shades. Marc Jacobs came under fire just last year for releasing a foundation line with over 20 shades but only 2 of those were WOC friendly. And other brands such as Tarte, Too Faced, Almay, and Rimmel don’t even attempt to account for the darker toned women. And other brands release darker shades as time goes on.
But why is the black woman so disregarded in the beauty industry? Why are we treated as an afterthought as if our money isn’t good enough? It can’t be because black women don’t buy makeup or beauty items because according to a Refinery 29 article, Black women spend 7.5 billion annually on beauty products. The breakdown of those numbers shows that they spend 80% more on cosmetics and twice as much on skin care than non-black beauty shoppers. So it’s not that the black dollar is nonexistent in the beauty industry. Brands simply take the black dollar for granted and I for one am sick of it. It is something that needs to continue to be called out.
Now it should be noted that some brands do very much account for the darker toned woman. Maybelline, Anastasia Beverly Hills, L’Oréal, Black Radiance, Black Opal, Iman, Cover Girl and many others all are examples of brands that attempt to be inclusive. ABH even went so far as to use one white model and one black one when showing swatches of lip products so that the black consumer can get a more accurate idea of how a certain lipstick will look on them. Yes, progress is being made. However, we still have a long way to go. Until then my loyalty will lie with the brands that find my blackness worthy of accommodating.